Plein Air Painting on Hornby Island in British Columbia

Bundles of impressions with snippets of morning light linger over the rounded forms of the cliff and ragged sun-bleached driftwood. The sweet lime-toffee-scent of new growth on cedar and fir trees mingle with the pungent sea at low tide and crest into my awareness between barking sea lions and the door-hinge screech of eagles. These fragments of observations then settle softly, next to the storm-washed, smoothness of beach pebbles I am rubbing between my fingers before setting up in the cool shade for another painting sketch. How does one make sense of this jumble of sensory information? As a landscape painter, I have a process for gathering such reference materials from the field for later use in the studio. Let’s see what we have from Hornby Island in British Columbia, Canada.

This first painting session is from 10 – 11:00 ish in the morning at Helliwell Provincial Park on Hornby Island. My partner came with me. We hiked 4 km return with the painting gear and my camera. The trek was totally worth it though I was happy to have an extra hand for the basket of paints boards and our drinking water. 

“The Bay at the Peterson Bench” 8 x 10 inch acrylic plein air by Terrill Welch.

This small bay drew me in again and again over the time we were here. I am suspicious that it just might end up an oil painting on a large canvas. 😉

Small Bay in Helliwell Provincial Park

The weather has been unseasonably warm with little breeze these last few days. I have been hiking early in the morning between 5:30 or 6:30 to 7:30 or 8:00 am. Then, I find a place to paint in the shade during the later morning or afternoon. Lovely though and as you can guess, a stunning island for nature and landscapes. 

“Sandpiper Beach Community Park” 8 x10 plein air acrylic sketch by Terrill Welch

The exposed striations on this beach make it a favourite for geologists studying the land structure and history of the island. I wish I knew the name of this tree as it is not an alder or a maple tree. We have one in our backyard as well. Someone said it might be a traditional medicine tree but no one has been able to tell me it’s name. That one lone cloud just above the horizon is the only one we saw during our first three days.

Sandpiper Beach on Hornby Island

There is something about standing painting at the edge of a cliff that is irresistible! This latest adventure was no exception. Helliwell is such an incredibly beautiful provincial park… though it is a 5 km round trip with the painting gear to set up plein air in this location.

“Helliwell Cliff on Hornby Island” 8 x10 plein air acrylic sketch by Terrill Welch

On this day it was so hot that I put my sun hat on David’s wispy hair and covered noggin. Then I made a makeshift hat out of a clean painting rag held on with hair ties on my own head. We must have been quite a sight but we didn’t get heatstroke and we drank enough water that the basket for the return trip was much lighter. I have captured this specific place from several angles and at different times of day. This first is from the same time and view as the painting sketch above.

Cliff in afternoon at Helliwell Provincial Park

And a view from a little farther away in the early morning shortly after sunrise.

Early morning cliff walk in Helliwell Provincial Park

A favourite capture is looking the other way, also first thing in the morning. A writer friend who saw this image commented on the lemonade sky – would make part of a painting title I think 😉

Lemonade sky morning in Helliwell Provincial Park

There are more images of this cliff of course, many more actually, and I haven’t even begun to edit the images from my big camera. But let’s move on to the final plein air painting sketch…

Plein air painting in the early morning at Grassy Point on Hornby Island

The weather had cooled overnight and a wind was huffing along out of the west. So I tucked in with the sunrise on the east, down near the shore where there was shelter and warmth enough to work. An upset sandpiper was screaming the grass sideways above me because I walked past her nest of four eggs in the pen field. Other that that, there were just a few gulls, the driftwood, a gentle sea and stones. A good morning for a plein air painting sketch! 

“A Grassy Point Morning on Hornby Island” 8 x10 inch acrylic by Terrill Welch

Generally, Grassy Point is known for its sunsets but I can attest to the beauty of the sunrises as well. However, we did manage to stay out for one lovely sunset just the same.

Sunset at Grassy Point on Hornby Island

It is a popular place with locals and visitors alike at in the evenings, not unlike Georgina Point on Mayne Island.

Gathering to witness the close of day at Grassy Point on Hornby Island

And the Camus and other wildflowers offered an extra splash of colour.

Camus wildflowers grandstanding at Grassy Point.

Still, I will take early mornings on the cliff in Helliwell Provincial Park as a first choice for my landscape muse.

Cliff at dawn in Helliwell Provincial Park

And again…

rock outcrop at Helliwell

Did we go to Tribune Bay you might ask? Yes, we did. Though, you may have guessed by now, I am not really much of a laying-on-the-sand-soaking-up-the-sun kind of gal. But we did do a low tide beach walk. I enjoyed finding whole living sand dollars…

Sand dollar at Tribune Bay on Hornby Island

and the rich textures of sea and sky and sandstone…

Tribune Bay on Hornby Island

I must confess, Tribune Bay wasn’t the highlight for me as I had anticipated it would be. It IS beautiful and a grand beach but the lure of other adventures on the island overshadowed its sparkle for this trip. That said, the first larger studio oil painting is of an old fir tree that is on this beach. I will share the process for this painting in the next post soon.

There are many more images for painting references. But we shall stop there for now.

This may have been the best working trip in a long while and it’s success goes partly to our host couple, Diana and David at Hornby Island Mt. Geoffrey Bed and Breakfast. After my early morning adventures, I would come back to coffee and the smell of fresh baking muffins. Sometimes, I would still need to rouse a sleepy partner and other times he would be up looking bright and cheery waiting for me. Then, down the stairs from our private guest area we would come to devour a full heartily breakfast including egg, bacon, muffins and yogurt with local homemade raspberry/blackberry sauce to go on top. 

Suppers were handled by Forage – a farm to kitchen cafe which closed at 3:00 in the afternoon. We were a little early in the season still and the main Sea Breeze restaurant was fully booked with private events and the Thatch pub/restaurant near the ferry was intermittently open. But, like much of islander life, one learns quickly to make do with what is available. We thrived on our delicious early dinners with a later evening snack, without feeling the least shortchanged. With a bit of luck, we hope to make a late fall return visit. Even with three ferries to catch from Mayne Island to Hornby Island via Vancouver Island, it is a reasonably easy day of travel.

What has been your most favourite working trip in the past while?


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A Potpourri of Painting Adventures

In getting ready for the “West to East Canadian Landscapes in Paint” solo exhibition opening on June 30, 2017, I have inhaled the passionate fragrances from many rendered experiences of the last few years.  From climbing along the bluffs recently of Galiano Island

to painting with umbrella rattling in the breeze

while rain, sun and mist tumbling endlessly across the horizon

(The Bluffs Galiano Island 8 x 10 inch acrylic plein air sketch)

to maneuvering carefully on the narrow  red cliffs of Prince Edward Island last May,

Canada has an exhilarating and engaging topography!

(Cap Egmont Lighthouse PEI 18 x 24 inch oil on canvas)

From one crashing sea on the west coast

(plein air painting on Chesterman Beach in Tofino, B.C.)

to another on the east coast,

( plein air painting sketch at Cavendish PEI)

my brushes are hardly every still. There is more to capture the heart and imagination then there are tubes of paint to feverishly brush onto a surface. Still, I give it my best!

(Sea and Sun Cox Bay Tofino BC 24 x 48 inch oil on canvas)

Though this solo exhibition of 25 works is inspired by Canada 150 celebrations (and it will open on the Canada Day long weekend), there is so much more influencing these canvases, thousands of years more!

What natural environments bring your own heart to crescendo of emotion?

Note: Specifics about the solo exhibition are now available in a recent post on HERE.

© 2017 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to

The Wildest of the Wild West Coast of Canada Adventures

Some people go on vacations. They want to kick back and relax. A holiday from the grind of their real life they say. Not me! My real life is already scrumptiously engaging and meaningful. Though a little sunshine in just the right place never hurts.

Sun and Sea dance Frank Island Tofino British Columbia by Terrill Welch IMG_1751

When I leave home, I usually want to do more of what I do already in an ordinary day.

Terrill Welch on holidays by Josie Olszewski

I therefore call these gallivants-into-the-unknown, adventures! This latest six-day trip was to Chesterman Beach over on the wildest of the wild west coast in southern Canada, Tofino.

Wickaninnish Inn and the Sea by Terrill Welch IMG_1723

There is nothing like rain in a rain forest. Just put on that rain gear and go for it! Neither the giant trees nor you will mind in the least.

Rainy day forest walk with Josie and O boys iPhone capture by Terrill Welch

Or maybe the weather breaks for a few moments so you head for the beach again to… dig a hole, or play in the creek, or maybe you want to practice your clambering skills? Definitely a life-long ability worth refining in rough terrain. You just never know when you might want to climb straight up a hillside for a better view or down over some rocks to get that perfect angle.

the art of climbing by Terrill Welch IMG_1761

Or, how about a little plein air painting? Five years old

Eldest O boy at five years old painting on Chesterman Beach iPhone capture by Terrill Welch

or fifty-seven years old, it is all good!

plein air painting on Chesterman Beach by Terrill Welch 2016-03-22 IMG_0734

If it is crazy unpredictable weather, go anyway. Get out there and stretch those limbs!

beach walkers on Chesterman by Terrill Welch 2016-03-23 IMG_0830

Sun, rain, hail or high seas you will love it! I am as sure of it as these three are.

Josie and the two O boys on Chesterman Beach iPhone capture by Terrill Welch

But, for a landscape painter, that isn’t the last of it is it? The adventure continues back in the studio. Here are two of the latest Tofino oil paintings.

On the Rocks in Tofino 24 x 30 inch oil on canvas

On the Rocks in Tofino 24 x 30 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2016-03-30 IMG_2079

and Chesterman Beach Sunset 20 x 24 inch oil on canvas UPDATE: SOLD April 8, 2016

Chesterman Beach Sunset 20 x 24 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2016-04-01 IMG_2064

These will be available in my online gallery along with other work if you care for more information.

Now that is an adventure! My deepest thanks to the O family for inviting me along.

Stay tuned for the next traveling artist trip which will be to the East Coast of Canada for seven weeks on Prince Edward Island. Estimated time of arrive is late April.


Where is your next adventure going to take you?


© 2016 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to

Late Autumn Travel and news from the Studio

The lemon, cadmium and naples yellows are brilliant and the brush quick in the  Okanagan afternoon sun. Peachland reminds me of painting en plein air in France with everyone stopping to visit and comment on the progress as I worked.

This is very different from the usual Canadian standing back and frowning at me as they skeptically ask “Can you make a living do that?”

I always here their parent’s voice in these comments. After so many years of these exchanges, I am mostly use to it. But it can still, on occasion, be a little startling. I wonder, do these same people, if they see someone pruning hedges, or building a fence, or moving their herd of cattle, or tying up their charter fishing boat or cleaning the bathrooms in the provincial park, do they ask those people this same question? It is, after all, one would think, un-Canadian-like to ask such a personal question, tinged with judgement, to a person you see standing in front of an easel (paintbrush in hand) outdoors in our scenic landscape. But not so apparently. When I look up at these strangers, I realize that they just can’t help themselves. They simply must ask. Their curiosity seems to override politeness. I have a plan though.

The next time I am asked this question, I am going to reply “Why do you ask?”

I am sure their answers will be fascinating!

But in Peachland, like it was when I traveled in France, the people stopping by seemed to know and respect the seriousness and dedication that goes into the “real work ” of painting – even a quick plein air sketch. I was impressed and pleased. People could be seen crossing the street to come over to where I was busy working away at the easel.

Plein Air painting in Peachland British Columbia by Terrill Welch October 24 2015

They stopped in both direction on their walks along the waterfront to see how the sketch was coming along. It was a most pleasant 45 minutes on a fine autumn day!

The southern interior of British Columbia in general simply IS different from our southwest coast. Take these reflections on Vaseux Lake.

A little colour…

A little colour south end of Vaseux Lake British Columbia by Terrill Welch 2015_10_30 075

and more colour…

Autumn Vaseux Lake British Columbia by Terrill Welch 2015_10_30 089

and then not much at all…

sleeping giant at Vaseux Lake British Columbia by Terrill Welch 2015_10_30 109

But the reflections! These kinds of reflections we do not get often on the Pacific Ocean. Not like this. I will be back another time I am sure. I have to test out other locations to see if more of the Okanagan has an appreciation of plein air artists or if it is just Peachland.

Back in the studio, another of the paintings that recently sold was delivered and is now ensconced in its new home. Doesn’t it look like it has always been there?

The Olive Tree 40 x 30 inch oil on canvas in its new home by Terrill Welch 2015_10_07 010

I did get one more finished, done excepted for the edges, new oil painting completed during the past few weeks. It started out with the usual underpainting and was built up from there.

The final result is “Winter” an 18 x 24 inch walnut oil on canvas Mayne Island seascape.

Winter 18 x 24 inch walnut oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2015_11_10 024

In October, the painting shared in the previous post that I had just completed, “Salish Sea No Separation” 18 x 24 inch walnut oil, also sold before I could get it officially released. This work has safely arrived in Michigan and is now gracing the walls in the living room of a large rancher. I haven’t seen any photographs yet but I am sure I will before long.

Salish Sea No Separation 18 x 24 inch walnut oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2015_08_23 096

Right now, I am feeling the pressure to find more studio time so that the inventory is replenished for the upcoming year. I trust I shall find the time. I know that I will. I must!

Then, we shall smile together when the next person says – “can she really make a living at that!?”

We can simultaneously reply… “Why do you ask?”

In other studio news, there are rumours of a possible pop-up show of my paintings early in the New Year. This will be confirmed once plans are in place. Also, I will be painting and staying in Victoria for the month of January and then traveling to Prince Edward Island to photograph and do painting sketches from the end of April until near the end of June. During the Art! Vancouver international art fair in May, I expect to have a couple of paintings in a gallery group show in Vancouver as well. The year ahead is shaping up to be eventful already.

For now though, I am rolling up my sleeves in the studio to paint!

Best of the holiday season everyone in case we don’t chat here again before then!

© 2015 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to

An Artist’s visit to Paris in June

What remains in my mind’s eye is the soft champagne and pearly whites of morning

Good Morning Paris  by Terrill Welch 2014_06_15 056

with the occasional splashes of reds.

Chez Marie by Terrill Welch 2014_06_15 059

But there is much more to Paris France than this isn’t there?

Up by the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur and through the trees is Paris.

A Paris morning through the trees by Terrill Welch 2014_06_15 044

She is a grand city that the world loves with a passion befitting its status.

Paris June 2014 by Terrill Welch 2014_06_15 049

Even if a visitor skips going to see the Eiffel Tower and prefers to remember the flights of spiral stairs as I did.

Stairs to 1st floor studio in Paris France by Terrill Welch 2014_06_15 084

Paris will steel our hearts even if we are reluctant lovers.

What artist can resist plein air painting of double courtyard on Rue Rodier in Paris France

plein air painting of double courtyard Rue Rodier Paris France by Terrill Welch 2014_06_17 086
The day before I promised myself that I would photograph and paint this double courtyard. After a full day at Musée d’Orsay, I had little time, light or energy left but decided to make a go of it anyway. To me, Paris is not just about the Louvre, D’Orsay, Jardin Tuileries, Eiffel Tower and street-side cafes. It is not about high fashion either. In fact, I have seen very little evidence of that. Nor is it just good food. What Paris is to me is the ability to share small amounts of private space with such regard and politeness for each other. During the 45 minutes or so I worked on this painting more than twenty people came and went in the courtyard. Some just said Bonjour Madame or Bonsoir Madame but most stopped to say a few words and they did not give me a hard time about not being able to understand everything and were more than willing to switch to English once I asked – in French of course. These courtyards are an intimate connection between neighbours… not quite friends for the most part and not as close as family but more familiar than the street, or the cafe and much more familiar than most North American neighbours are with each other. Once the outside door closes, this is home and it is treated as such even if it is shared with probably more than a hundred people. This is Paris to me. In fact, this is very much France to me. This I know I will remember – fondly.

Double courtyard Rue Rodier Paris France 25 x 35 cm plein air acrylic painting sketch

Double courtyard Rue Rodier Paris France 25 x 35 cm plein air acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_06_17 080

 But we did go to Louvre too. Looking out from one of the upstairs windows we can feel its magnificence.

Louvre Paris France June 2014  by Terrill Welch 2014_06_16 048
Walking the halls leaves a person with shivers running down their spine.
walking the halls of the Louvre by Terrill Welch 2014_06_16 008
Morning sun rolled into Napoleon III apartments and splashed against the ceiling.
morning sun on Napoleon III Apartments ceiling Louvre France by Terrill Welch 2014_06_16 021
This painted wedding-cake style room in the Louvre is so outrageously over-the-top it almost made me laugh but I couldn’t pick my bottom jaw up fast enough to get out even one “ha-ha.” I just kept turning in circles saying unbelievable, look at that, unbelievable! It seemed most appropriate that we happened upon this room shortly after visiting the queen of the Louvre herself… you know, the one with the smile 😉 We hadn’t actually planned on giving her any courtly attention but the morning was reasonably quiet so we followed the entourage along and dropped in for a few minutes. In case you wanted to know, Mona Lisa is doing well for her age and is still smiling. I didn’t take her portrait as I knew the light wouldn’t do her justice.

Where the Musée d’Orsay  does not allow photographs, the Louvre does. So I took just a few photographs of paintings for my own study. These are shared with you for the same personal use study purpose.

A favourite artist of mine was Camille Corot. His landscape from Avignon called “Villeneuve-lez-Avignon La Tour Philippe le Bel” from 1843 struck a significantcord with me as I had stood in about the same place painting 171 years later.

Villeneuve-lez-Avignon La Tour Philippe le Bel 1843 by Camille Corot photo for study by Terrill Welch 2014_06_16 033
Across the Way Villeneuve lez Avignon France 25 x 35 cm acrylic painting sketch was a work I had completed just days earlier.
Across the Way Villeneuve lez Avignon France 25 x 35 cm acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_06_012 106
I now have a completed larger studio painting…
VILLENEUVE LEZ AVIGNON FRANCE 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas
Villeneuve lez Avignon France 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_08_08 069
Camille Corot is mostly known as a landscape painter but it is a few of his portraits of women that are having a lasting impression. This detail of La Dame en Bleu is from the last figurative painting that Corot painting in 1874.
detail La Dame en Bleu 1874 by Camille Corot by Terrill Welch 2014_06_16 118
They are so melancholy while holding a solid kind of inner-defiance that has surfaced for me only after careful observation. I wonder – how did he do this? What was his relationship to these women? Below is a detail from “Zingara au tambour de basque” that he painted between 1865 to 1870.
detail Zingara au tambour de basque 1865 to 1870 by Camille Corot photo by Terrill Welch 2014_06_16 110
Corot would have been about 74 years old when this work was finished. Is the answer to my question in his biographical information? I have ordered a book this morning from Amazon called “The Secret Armoire: Corot’s Figure Paintings and the World of Reading” by Mariantonia Reinhard-Felice to help me answer this question.

But there is more the Louvre than Corot and so much more to Paris than the Louvre isn’t there?

Well, we shall have to save it for another day. It is time for this artist to get ready for an afternoon of unrelated meetings on this September afternoon back in Canada off the southwest coast of British Columbia.

What does Paris in June mean to you?

© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to

Saturna Island and rendering overlapping memories

Mid-August brings blackberries, hanging fruit and puffs of dust as our sandal clad feet catch the spots where grass has given way to daily meanderings. The farm geese play watch dog and the cows search for shade under a large maple. As we find our way up on the large porch, floor planks register the weight of our human presence.

the country porch by Terrill Welch 2014_08_16 028

The main part of the house is about 125 years old. It is the oldest dwelling remaining on Saturna Island off the southwest coast of Canada. My eldest grandson and I are staying four nights at the Breezy Bay Bed and Breakfast on a co-operative farm.  Our hosts, Erin and Jamie, appear to be in their early thirties and are youngsters amongst the mostly graying heads of about 300 full-time inhabitants. This our third summer visit to the Saturna Island. We have come to revisit favourite places and to simply be together in a home-away-from-home.

We slip our shoes off at the door and pad into our introduction of the polished patina of a place that bridges the past and present with grace and warmth equal to that of its caregiver. The library up stairs is just off our bedroom and its books seem oblivious to the “hotspot” it offers for a wifi connection.

the library by Terrill Welch 2014_08_16 015

The working country kitchen though is where I can truly feel my shoulders relax. This a home. It is our home for the next four days. We can do this. This could by my grandmother’s kitchen. This can be a place where memories last.

working country kitchen by Terrill Welch 2014_08_16 024

The breakfast room confirms my observations about rendering memories.

breakfast room by Terrill Welch 2014_08_16 019

When on the last day we leave this room filled on all-you-can-eat crepes, my grandson quietly comments – I am going to miss these guys.

And indeed we will. For though this is the first time we have stayed in this particular place on Saturna Island, Erin and Jamie have a way of making us feel like we are family. For reasons beyond both my grandson’s and my control, we must make a-home-away-from-home, or at least away from my home. Though this is often a raw emotional place of frustration and loss for me, I have come to accept that, for now, there is no other choice. We must rely on others to create the intimacy of home for our vacation time together. In this respect, we have been lucky and this year has been extra special, a healing suave on my unfulfillable expectations.

I want to embed my memories for long-term retrieval and one way to this is to do quick painting sketches. So as the smell of banana bread warms the morning sun I find a spot to set up on the porch looking out towards Boot Cove.

Plein Air painting at Breezy Bay BnB by Terrill Welch 2014_08_15 213

The plein air painting isn’t exactly what I want for composition but it will do. I have the energy and of the moment. It is all I need for now.

BREEZY BAY BANANA BREAD MORNING – 8 x 10 inch plein air acrylic painting sketch

Breezy Bay Banana Bread morning 8 x 10 inch plein air acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_08_15 219

A week later, back in the studio I decide on a 36 x 36 inch canvas that has a lemon yellow ground and set to work on a large oil painting.

in progress Breezy Bay morning 36 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_08_24 009

I wanted space to walk into the painting by leaving ample room on the deck. I liked the idea of creating this kind of depth using the square canvas. It is intriguing to me how we can visually create this illusion on a flat surface. But it is not the only illusion is it? There is also the illusion that this is the life we seek – the life we deserve for our hard work. I will probably always think of this painting as “the myth of capitalism.” There is a luxury of time we have been conditions to strive and put in front for our paid labour. We will someday get to sit on a deck like this as a reward. This is not why I painted this but rather it is an after thought – one that curiously lessens my loss for my first choice which would have been to have my grandson with me at home while making my own banana bread and sitting on my own porch. I remind myself to count my blessings instead of bemoaning my inability to reach an ideal.

The painting is now finished.

It is released for sale over on my website at “New Painting Squared with a Breezy Bay Morning on Saturna Island.”


What blessings have you recently noticed in the midst of reflecting on deeply felt loss?


© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to

The Diamond on the hill is Villeneuve lez Avignon France

What is it that has us gasp in awe when we look across an expansive vista? I believe it is because we are able to find ourselves within a much larger context. We experience our relationship to our surroundings in a different way than when inclosed by trees or buildings. This experience is a challenge to capture in a painting or photography without separating the viewer from the view and leaving them standing outside of a landscape. You will know this from your own, sometimes disappointing, photography efforts when you say to yourself – but that wasn’t what it was like at all! If you have been having conversations with me for a while, you know that I like to have my viewers experience my paintings from inside the landscape or seascape. I believe I may have succeeded in this desire in my latest painting which has us looking down onto the Rhone River at Pont D’ Avignon and across the view to Villeneuve lez Avignon, France.  Before I explain further let’s look at the painting and you can experience it for yourself.

Villeneuve lez Avignon France – 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas

Villeneuve lez Avignon France 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_07_16 030

If you just want to experience the painting for its own sake I suggest that you read no further. However, if you are curious about what happened in this canvas please feel free to join me by reading the rest of the post.

This is a good-sized painting so let’s look at it again with a bit of context around it.

on the stairs for context - Villeneuve lez Avignon France 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas  by Terrill Welch

Even though the painting is harder to see at this second angle in the early morning light, it does give us a feel for its size and how it looks relative to its surroundings. This is the same idea as what viewing a distant vista does for us. In the second photograph I want to move around and maybe get closer for a clearer view. The same thing happens when looking across a valley. How many times have you walked out on a viewpoint and then moved from spot-to-spot to make sure you were viewing it from the best vantage point? I believe this action of searching is what keeps us inside a landscape rather than viewing it as a spectator. So you might ask – how did I attempt to replicate this exercise for just our eyes in the painting above?

First, I stood on the very hillside that the viewer does when looking at this painting. I personally did the act of searching for that “best vantage point” by moving around the top of the hillside. Then I did a painting sketch. It was during the act of doing that painting sketch that I became familiar with the forms and structure of the landscape. We can read more about this in my earlier post “Artists Camille Corot and Terrill Welch Visit Avignon France 171 Years Apart” but for ease of comparison, I will post again the painting sketch

Across the Way Villeneuve lez Avignon France
plein air 25 × 35 cm acrylic painting sketch on 185 lb paper.

Across the Way Villeneuve lez Avignon France 25 x 35 cm acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_06_012 106

In the earlier post I talk about crunching the landscape slightly in my mind’s eye to fit the canvas shape. But now I am not so sure that is the only reason it was adjusted. Let’s have another look at the underpainting with bits of masking tap marking lines of intersection and tension.

compositional tension in Villeneuve lez Avignon France 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_07_07 005

If we look at the plein air sketch and the larger canvas these same lines of intersection and tension exist. Whereas in reality, if one was a surveyor and painted to measure this tension is stretched out much further. So what happened? I believe it is the process of walking around the vantage point for the best view. In doing this we gather information about the expanse and reconstruct it in our mind’s eye to provide us with the best view of all aspects. In this case, the elements of interest are brought closer together adjusted in size and clarity exaggerating the tensions and lines of intersection. The diamond shape of Villeneuve les Avignon is our eye’s anchor but we do not look at it closely do we? At least I didn’t. By having these conversations with myself while I painted I began to unravel how we can experience a landscape painting from inside of the view rather than as a spectator. The result is that the view is created as one might do for themselves if they were to be standing on the hillside gathering the experience in their own mind’s eye. We the viewer are therefore inside the painting through the intentional design and execution of the work. To do this I first had to understand the compositional intersections and tensions and then combine three different painting techniques from the realism of the arches on the bridge to the impressionism of the morning light hitting the trees to the abstract expressionism of the buildings on the hillside. This combination of technique is not evident in the plein air sketch however.  I developed this deliberate conscious use of brush and paint as I began working up the underpainting.

work-in-progress Villeneuve lez Avignon France 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_07_07 010

I started to see the results though about here nearer to the end of the painting.

work-in-progress 2 Villeneuve lez Avignon France 24 x 36 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2014_07_07 021

I knew what I needed to do but I wasn’t sure I could make it work because culturally we have stripped these approaches into separate schools of practice. We have learned to understand paintings as if these are three separate painting languages. But from my recent visits through many European museums I find that artists are often multilingual. They will often find the perfect brush stroke using whatever painting language they have access to through their experience. This separation of painting languages is to some extent the work of art historians generalizing major movements in art and our understanding of  painting over time – which is directly influenced by our world experience as it intersects with our internal self. So I made a deliberate attempt to break these separation rules and stretch across as much painting history is covered by the Pont D’ Avignon itself. I wanted the viewer to view the painting as if they were standing on the hillside constructing the view within their own mind’s eye. This was much more important to me than conforming to painting schools of style and technique. I think that the strength of this approach is evident if we revisit the plein air sketch and then final painting. The same life and vitality of a quick sketch was carried over into the larger painting but the visual strength that the larger painting has is missing from the earlier painting sketch. At least that is what I experience. I would love to hear what you experience as well because the risk of mixing several languages of any sort is to be miss-understood.


Can you tell us about a time when you consciously merged separate approaches or languages to achieve a desired result?


Please note that the larger painting will be release at a later date – it is still resting 🙂


© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to

Barcelona Spain through the Eyes of a Traveling Artist

Where we are staying in Barcelona is intimate, warm and relatively safe. But this is one huge and sometimes stressed city. People often do not make eye contact and are in a world of their own with a kind of pinched expression that comes from longstanding worries. It is not uncommon for middle age women to flinch at the sound of my footsteps on the sidewalk behind them. It is every-so-slightly but I know I am not mistaken when they turn and look directly at me – a safety practice I learned myself many years ago. When our host dropped by to change over the propane tank to a fresh bottle he warned – keep the front door locked at all times. This is a safe neighbourhood but we are in a crisis. I had been doing this already as the door only has a deadbolt and no other latch. Still his concern matched my impression of the Barcelona. Some might quibble that Spain is in a crisis and not Barcelona but like it or not Barcelona is an important part of Spain.


The European Union elections were held while we were here and there is talk of another bailout for Spain. Unemployment is high in the city and even higher in other parts of Spain. As a visitor and as a guest in this country, I find it a valuable warning because this is not a city or country issue but a global one which is fraying its edges more visibly here than in other places we have been in Europe or in our home country of Canada.


There is one place where people let their shoulders rest easy and their stride loosens. It is in the Jardins del Turó del Putget. The people living near the gardens walk with their dogs, family and visit with friends on the benches sprinkled along the climb and at the top of the park. I walk here often. It is where one can view the city with a bit of circumspect.


Barcelona Spain through the trees by Terrill Welch 2014_05_25 050


The gardens are simple and natural with tough herb shrubs such as rosemary and lavender added to the ground cover. It is not a place noticeable on the tourist maps. Rather, it is just an ordinary functional green space with designated dog and children play areas. Here, one can read a book or a newspaper or do nothing at all. There are no work expectations on the hill of steps, trails and trees. It is a place of rest – a place to build resilience.


These are the underlying currents and observations that create part of the interpretative lens for my photography and painting in Barcelona Spain. Following is my round-up of our time here. It is not all-encompassing – just a few quick impressionistic brushstrokes.


Community and park spaces are extremely limited. Our neighbourhood playgrounds are on spears of land beside major thoroughfares. Our ground-floor apartment has a most prized private courtyard in the middle of tall apartment buildings. Its value did not register with me when we arrived but now I more fully appreciate its rare pleasure. One morning I set up my paints.


Painting in a Barcelona Courtyard by Terrill Welch 2014_05_25 111


I want to capture courtyards private beauty and mystery. To do so means painting the spaces between the actual forms using light and colour to guide the construction of a meaningful composition. The results are an abstraction of sorts but the energy of the space after the morning rain remains.
Small Courtyard in Barcelona Spain

10 × 12 inch acrylic painting sketch on canvas board


Small Courtyard in Barcelona Spain 10 x 12 inch acrylic painting sketch on canvas board by Terrill Welch 2014_05_25 144


(Art prints are available at Redbubble HERE.)


One of our most pressing reasons for coming to Barcelona was to see Antoni Gaudi’s work in person. What we didn’t realize was how mainstream and popular his work had become with visitors. After we assessed the potential for crowds, lineups and disappointment we took a circular approach. This involved a few scouting trips before actually making a commitment to a more engaging visit to Park Güell.

A prized seat in Barcelona

A prized seat in Barcelona by Terrill Welch 2014_05_27 245

That invites us repeatedly to stroll its length and look out over the city.

try done Reaching out to the Barcelona Park uell by Terrill Welch 2014_05_27 262

Sometimes Gaudi’s buildings seem to be cloud to cloud.

Cloud to Cloud Park Guell by Terrill Welch 2014_05_27 165

Yet, from other vantage points they are tucked right into the city.

At the edge of Park Guell by Terrill Welch 2014_05_27 068

Whether walking tree to tree

Tree to Tree in Park Guell Barcelona Spain by Terrill Welch 2014_05_27 102

or admiring the stretching supports

Stretching Park Guell Barcelona Spaint by Terrill Welch 2014_05_27 119

or the details of water collection at the front or back of the mosaic seating,

Water collection Park Guell 1 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_27 205

there is no denying the creative thought, care and vision of Gaudi’s work. It wasn’t designed to be a public park but it makes a good one! Some, including Gaudi feel that the church is his most important work but it is this park that most speaks to me.


In the end, we decided not to visit Sagrada Familia at all and nor did we stand in line to visit Casa Mila. Instead, we saw only its roof top


roof top of Casa Mila by Terrill Welch 2014_05_29 012


in favour of a few walk-by visits to the summer home – Casa Vicens

over the top on Carrer De Les Carolines by Terrill Welch 2014_05_29 004

with its point of interest (yes, I am being cheeky).

point of interest on Casa Vicens by Terrill Welch 2014_05_29 024

We trekked over to the private school, Colegio de las Teresianas, but I didn’t even take one photograph as the angle and size of the buildings was resisting my framing eye.


However, the medieval castle – Torre Bellesguard,

Torre Bellesguard 3 by Terrill Welch 2014_05_30 018

was ours alone late on Friday afternoon. We indulged our need for all-things Gaudi

repaired at Torre Bellesguard by Terrill Welch 2014_05_30 029

while noting the amount of upkeep required for keeping mosaic work in good repair.

breaking patterns at Torre Bellesguard by Terrill Welch 2014_05_30 034

This morning I thought about our time in Barcelona and what one thing I truly wanted to paint on our last full day. Can you guess where I went?


Jardins del Turó del Putget Barcelona Spain

25 x 35 cm plein air acrylic painting sketch

Jardins del  Turó del Putget Barcelona Spain 25 x 35 cm plein air acrylic painting sketch by Terrill Welch 2014_06_02 028

(Art prints are available at Redbubble HERE.)


I did not take my camera with me as even though it feels safe in the park, I am unable to keep an adequate on its whereabouts and it would interfere with my painting if I was to wear it while working. This time you will have to be content with just the finished work and the comparison of an image from last evening at the top of a park where a four-legged friend made us laugh with his pure joy.


Top of Dog Park Barcelona by Terrill Welch 2014_06_02 004


Tomorrow morning we will leave and return to France with the first stop being Avignon for three days. I am more than ready to leave Barcelona but this rather stoic city has grown on me and shall remember it and its people fondly.


© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to

Raining in Narbonne France


We didn’t know what to expect in Narbonne France as we knew very little about the city. We knew it had been a port before the river changed course and silt made it an inland city. We knew it was a medieval city at its heart and that there were ancient Roman ruins and a University. This was about it.


We climbed or rather crawled up the spiral stairs hefting the largest of our suitcases which I am sure has crept over its 50 pound airline limit (it is a good thing it separates into two parts for the return trip). The spiraling white piece in the middle is the hand-railing.


3rd floor crawl up by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 021


I wonder about what we will discover during three-day visit. We are on the third floor of a sweet small apartment. The bathroom with its small blue tiles is separated by a white cotton curtain from the rest of the low-ceiling one room dwelling. A short kitchenette runs along part of one wall with its stoic folding table wedged into the remaining space between the bathroom and the old wooden door. The real bonus is two good-sized windows that open wide and look out onto the piazza. This and the warm ochre carpet splashed between milk-white walls combine to make for a most pleasing short-term residence.


We cautiously proceed back down the stairs to get groceries for morning. Then exhausted, eat the rest of the day’s lunch and call it an early evening.


At about 4:00 am the day is beginning in our little square in Narbonne. The Patisserie is opening up to set out its outdoor table and chairs directly out front and also in a corner of the square. The rolling up of metal storefront blinds and the rhythmic movement of a hand-trolley pulled by the storekeeper lull me back to sleep.


By seven in the morning it is raining – hard.


four am set up rained out by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 012


I feel bad for the Patisserie as his early morning start has been a wash. Only a few students brave the wet and huddle in the doorway waiting for a break in the downpour.


waiting out the rain in Narbonne France by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 019


I decide to go exploring but David being of the cat temperament decides to wait for drier weather. The streets are empty.


rain in streets of Narbonne France by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 034


The late 12th century Cathedral Saint-Just et Saint-Pasteur with its flying buttresses is near so I decide to start there.

The inside is a no-photograph zone but it is so dark one almost needs a flashlight to see the aisle let alone anything on the walls. However, the courtyard is beautiful


12th century Cathedrale courtyard Narbonne by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 043


and the roses along one of the walkways to enter the inner sanctum are not in the least put out by the rain.


roses at the Cathedrale in Narbonne France by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 053

Walking along the corridors of the courtyard it is easy to have hundreds of years slip away and find oneself in another time, one where meditative prayer and silence are common maybe.

arches to the past by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 083

I like to look up in places like this. It is like something remembered but just out of reach of conscious articulation. Do ever get that feeling when you go new places?

something remembered by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 085


Having found a most appropriate frame of reference for my visit in Narbonne I head out the side exit and across the narrow street into the wet marble courtyard leading to the Narbonne Museum of Art and History. A staff person tiptoed very carefully across the glistening surface. I took to the approach to heart and followed in the same manner.


Musee d' art et d'histoire de Narbonne marble courtyard by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 111


There is a sad-looking angel on a pottery bowl at the top of the stairs

sad angel museum stairs in Narbonne by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 119


and I wonder what is John’s Club that can be seen out of the tall stairway windows that rattle loudly in wind from the storm outside.


John's Club paintography by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 123


The museum offered a pass for seven sites for nine Euros or it was four Euros for just the Art Museum. On a whim I purchased the pass to the seven sites and succeeded in setting the course of discovery for our time in Narbonne.


After a lengthy exploration of the excellent permanent and special exhibition including several rooms of 17 – 18 century dishes, including some in a most stunning pale green dinning room, I am ready to see if David wants to come back again for the afternoon and so he could get his seven site pass as well of course. There were many great works to see but there was one that I knew he would love as much as me. It isn’t a large painting but rather about a middle size at 55 x 68 cm. The work is by an Italian painter Gaspare Traversi (1732-1769) and is called Mendiant accroupi or A Beggar



It is the emotion and compositional strength of this image as well as pure skill in foreshortening that had me coming back to this painting several times. Every centimeter of this canvas is in full use and allows you no room to shrink from the image. The beggar has seen us. We must respond in some way and whatever that way is he and the world will know. It is our human condition we are facing in this painting.  This image, courtesy of the Narbonne art museum and published in La Tribune de l’Art does not really fully speak to the power of this piece of course.  But it was the only image I could find to share with you.  Other than that – off to Narbonne and the art museum with you!

The weather is breaking and there is a warm glow in the jute carpeted stairway as I descend.


stairway Musee d' art et d'histoire de Narbonne by Terrill Welch 2014_05_21 125


I wonder what the ruins will be like? Well, that is the next post and we shall get to see at least some of them because one of the sites allows photographs!

If it was a rainy day and you could be in any museum in the world, what painting would you want to be standing in front of with your inquiring gaze?


© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to